FSU soccer looks to extend shutout streak

Watching the Florida State soccer team in the condensed 2020 season, one number jumps out immediately: The zero on the scoreboard for the opponents.

FSU has outscored opponents 14-0 in its four games, allowing just two shots in the Seminoles’ win over Wake Forest on Oct. 4. The Seminoles are one of two schools to have a 0.00 goals against average and the only school to have not allowed a goal with more than one game played.

“Our collective defending and the quality of the pressure that we’ve brought is probably better than I anticipated it would be early in the season,” coach Mark Krikorian said. “We have a veteran and mature team.”

The Seminoles do what they can to minimize scoring opportunities by controlling the possession of the ball. In part, that’s a credit to midfielders like Jaelin Howell, who helps guide the offense and defense. Malia Berkely and Emily Madril have been exceptional on the defensive end, too.

When teams go on the offensive, FSU has not allowed many chances. Beyond Wake’s two shots on goal, Virginia Tech had just one, Louisville had two and Notre Dame had five. FSU’s goalkeepers have rarely been tested. 

“If you have the ball, you don’t have to defend so much,” Krikorian said. “Part of our MO here is let’s keep the ball and let’s let them defend for a long while. If we do that it minimizes the time that we’re actually defending.”

After another break in the schedule, FSU returns to the field at Pittsburgh on Thursday (6 p.m. on ACC Network) and then will play at No. 11 Virginia on Sunday (3:30 p.m. on ESPN2). The Seminoles have handled the modified schedule well, one that features eight games but also 10-day breaks to allow for coronavirus testing. Krikorian said the Seminoles have adapted well.

“I don’t find it frustrating at all,” Krikorian said. “We’ve got into a good rhythm here as far as training and off days.”

The Seminoles will play their final home games on Oct. 29 (Duke, 4 p.m.) and Nov. 1 (Clemson, 3 p.m.) before preparing for the ACC Tournament. 

FSU will be without star midfielder Jaelin Howell, who will participate in the USWNT Training camp that will take place from Oct. 18-28. Howell, who will play on Thursday before going to the USWNT camp, joins 23 professional players from the NWSL and three other collegiate players in the camp.

“It will be a great experience for her,” Krikorian said. “Their coaches are watching our team, our program. They’re paying attention. At this time, it’s Jaelin turn.”

Florida State is 7-0-0 all-time against Pitt. The Seminoles are 8-21-6 all-time against Virginia.

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Malia Berkely has been part of an FSU team that’s recorded four shutouts to start 2020. (photo courtesy FSU athletics)